South Australian Police to use Small Unmanned Aircraft
South Australian Police (SAPOL) have opened a tender process to purchase four “off the shelf” commercial quadrocopters. Equipped with still, video, and infra-red cameras, the small UAVs will provide a means for SAPOL to gather intelligence and support tactical operations without putting their officers in harms way. Expectations are that the costs associated with the new technology, including regulatory requirements and pilot training, will be somewhere in the vicinity of $200,000.
Civil libertarians have voiced caution about the introduction of the new technology to law enforcement in South Australia, raising concerns about the use of the technology to monitor law abiding citizens involved in legitimate activities such as political protests. Emphasis has been placed upon the need for protocols to safeguard information about citizens that is obtained inadvertently. The concerns aren’t directly towards the use of this highly effective technology for policing, but rather, to ensure that the proper checks and balances are in place to prevent the improper use.
SAPOL convey that all privacy concerns relating to the use of UAVs will be addressed in a similar manner to current conventional aerial operations performed by law enforcement.